Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

This is Latin America’s Decade: The Cloud Will Make it Possible (Advertisement)

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Throughout time, civilizations have constantly searched for prosperity and social welfare. Societies have sought for solutions that allow them to live better and develop their potential. More than ever, in the past few years, information technologies have proven to be efficient tools in enhancing people’s quality of life and bringing them closer to knowledge.

But there are still many possibilities to be explored, and information technologies can be considered as the basis for ensuring prosperity and social welfare in Latin America. Yet, there is one piece of the puzzle that must be in place for technology to become an enabling force in the economic and social development of the region: the Cloud.

Hundreds of thousands of companies in Latin America have migrated to, or are in the process of migrating to, the Cloud, with the aim of making their companies more efficient, their processes more productive and improving the way they work. This will allow them to grow and contribute to their local economies which, in turn, will result in additional job creation and, as a consequence, in social welfare for their communities.

According to IDC, Latin America is the region with the strongest growth around the world in adoption of information technology. In 2011, Microsoft’s IT-related ecosystem in the region is expected to generate $38.4 billion, of which cloud computing plays a key part. Cloud computing allows information stored on servers, located anywhere in the world, to be offered to users as on-demand services.

Likewise, one of its benefits is the speed with which new technologies can be adopted by companies, institutions and communities. Some factors which had previously delayed its widespread adoption, such as doubts regarding security, privacy, interoperability, data management, and lack of control of information have been set aside, and the Cloud is starting to gain momentum in terms of adoption and impact, therefore having a positive effect on companies and economies throughout Latin America.

Governments throughout the region are becoming aware of these advantages and are using the Cloud to improve communications while reducing costs and improving data management for internal processes; more important, they are also using it to establish more effective ties to their citizens through improved services that are easier to access. Administrative institutions and public health and educational institutions are making the most of these advantages by establishing more efficient processes and improving access to the services they offer.

A clear example of this is what is happening in Colombia and Chile, where the Cloud has enabled the process of certifying the quality of education better and more transparent. In Colombia, the ICFES (Colombian Institute for the Evaluation of Education) decided to upload the results of university admission exams to a Cloud-based computing platform. The benefits are obvious. The results are now available in a short period and can be easily consulted via the Internet, instead of waiting months for them to arrive at the schools in an armored car and in sealed envelopes ready for personal delivery. The information is available to parents, students, schools and other interested parties involved in the educational process. The same process was implemented in Chile, where the Department of Education decided to publish the results of the SIMCE examinations, which measure teaching quality in schools around the country.

This is an example of the im-pact of the Cloud, which we will see exponentially grow during this decade.

We will also see a similar impact on companies and businesses. Companies of all sizes, particularly small companies, will adopt some form of cloud computing and cloud services, as clear acknowledgement that these new technologies can better position them in a competitive environment. A survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services shows that 85 percent of the businesses interviewed will use the Cloud moderately or extensively in the next three years. Those surveyed, around 1,500 companies, stated that the main benefits of this form of computing are the ability to increase the speed and flexibility of their businesses and the reduction of costs, which result in higher levels of growth, innovation and collaboration. This will promote accelerated levels of technological adoption.

We are witnessing an increasing number of success stories from companies that have placed themselves on the map by becoming more productive and competitive through the use of this type of computing, and that  are exploiting the new features that make them more flexible, agile and practical when it comes to solving business problems or taking advantage of new opportunities.

The Cloud has given young people the possibility of creating their own opportunities. An example of this, which is becoming increasingly common, is students who have recently graduated from college and who have successfully created their own companies by using technology. Such is the case of the young Argentineans from “3 Melons” who develop videogames on the Cloud and who were able to successfully incorporate an online entertainment company. This constitutes yet another example of the decade that we will be living in Latin America.

If we focus on students, who are fundamental to every country’s economic development, we can see how the Cloud allows them and the educational institutions they represent to use services and resources which, otherwise, would be too expensive or complex to implement. Nowadays, large servers at universities can be replaced at a fraction of what it used to cost by accessing the Web and the Cloud through the latest Internet browsers. Today, entities and companies only have to pay a few dollars per month per user to have access to complex functions that are performed by a data center somewhere in the Cloud.

In this same manner, Cloud computing offers easy access to large network and data systems for small companies, entities and governments; something which was only available to large corporations in the past. Smaller companies can now obtain cost-benefit ratios which are 25 times greater than the investment, according to a study done by Booz Allen Hamilton.

Another segment that will be positively affected by this are companies which offer technology services. Cloud services are no longer being provided only by big companies. A large number of small consultancy firms will start to see their earnings increase as they provide this type of services to companies from different sectors.

All of these reasons are clear indicators of why Cloud computing is a driving force for economic growth. The implementation of this type of data processing will enable reductions in the cost of information technologies and will lead companies to invest those resources in innovation. The information technology sector is of vital importance to economic growth in Latin America. The creation of information-based economies with access to centralized data centers will increase cost efficiency. Cloud computing is the basis for accelerating economic growth in every sector.

But the benefits are not only related to financial statements; they are also related to social welfare as it supplies society with the tools it needs to better develop the way it works, allows it to improve quality of life and reduce the digital gap—thanks to a business concept in which the user only pays for what he/she uses.

According to IDC, Latin America will be witnessing the creation of 700,000 new jobs and 6,000 new companies between 2009 and 2013 thanks to the Cloud.

We are convinced that technology will have a substantial impact on Latin America by providing more businesses, more people, more families, more children and more young people with the opportunity of developing their full potential.

This is Latin America’s decade.

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
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